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5 Factors Noted in Angela Davis Innocent Verdict: From Moment It ... 

Hager, Philip 

Los Angele s Times ( 1923-Current File); Jim 6, 1972; 

ProQuesl Historical Newspapers: Lus Angles Times ( 1 88 1 -1989) 

pg. A3 

5 Factors Noted 
in Angela Davis 
Innocent Verdict 

From Moment It Approved 
Jury, Defense Was All 
but Certain of Acquittal 

BY PHILIP HAGEK 
Tim«j 5l«H Writer 

SAX JOSE— On March 17, attorney 
Leo Branton Jr. rose to tell the 
court: "Your honor, the defense ac- 
cepts the jury as presently constitut- 
ed." 

At that moment, her lawyers were 
all but certain the jurors they had 
selected would not find Angela Da- 
vis guilty of murder, kidnaping and 
conspiracy. 

Late Sunday night, after acquit- 
ting the defendant on all three 
counts, members of the jury indicat- 
ed they had never seriously consid- 
ered bringing in a guilty verdict. 

Some of their actions spoke louder 
than words. 

Juror Salutes Crowd 

One juror, a 30-year-old mainten- 
ance electrician from Montana, 
waved a clenched-fist salute to a ju- 
bilant crowd of Miss Davis' suppor- 
ters outside the courtroom. A wom- 
an juror, whom the defense thought 
might favor the prosecution, danced 
happily with a defense lawyer at a 
victory celebration that night. And 
at another defense party, held pri- 
vately. 10 of the 12 jurors exchanged 
champagne toasts with the 25-year- 
old Communist and black militant. 
Attorneys and other courtroom ob- 
servers believe Miss Davis' case was 
won because of the following fac- 

tnrc- 

1 — Jury selection. 

The defense painstakingly investi- 
gated prospective jurors in the case, 
seeking to find at least unpreju- 
diced, if not sympathetic, panel 
members. Psychologists came to the 
courtroom to study mannerisms and 
expressions by prospective jurors 
study mannerisms and expressions 
by prospective jurors as they were 
questioned by attorneys. A hand- 
writing expert studied their signa- 
tures, looking for personality char- 
acteristics. 

Volunteer investigators, already 
armed with reports furnished by the 
prosecution, further explored the 
lives of the prospective jurors, pro- 
viding defense lawyers with folders 
full of information on them. 

2 — The burden of "reasonable 
doubt." 

The prosecution offered an admit- 
tedly circumstantial case: that Miss 
Davis, while not present at the 
scene, had helped plot the Aug. 7. 
1070. Marin Civic Center kidnaping 
attempt that resulted in the deaths 
of a judge and three abductors. 

The defense hammered at the lack 
of direct evidence, reminding the 
jury that under law the defendant 
need not testify and that the state 
had the burden of proving her guilt 
beyond a reasonable doubt — a formi- 
dable obstacle to conviction in al- 
most any criminal case and especial- 
ly formidable in a case where a con- 
viction would have to be based nn 
inferences drawn from a set of facts. 

3 — Her release on bail. 

Miss Dans had spent 16 months in 
jail, but was released on S102,o00 
bail just before her trial. Thus, to 
the jurors, she was not presented as 
a "dangerous" person, already jailed, 
but rather as a "free" woman whom 
the}' would have to send to prison 
for life had they convicted her. 

4 — Her lawyer's skill. 

The defense team of four attor- 
neys, referring to themselves as co- 
counsel, was highly effective, as 
evidenced by the outcome of the tri- 
al. Branton and Howard Moore Jr. 
handled most of the courtroom pre- 
sentation. Branton concluding the 
case with an emotional and far-rang- 
ing argument some jurors were to 
describe later as "moving." Doris 
Brin Walker and Margaret Burn- 
ham took charge of much of the de- 
fense investigation of witnesses and 
prospective jurors. 

■ Please Turn to Page 22, Col. 1 



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TRIAL FACTORS 

Continuedfrom Third Page Asst. State Atty. Ccn. 

- * *L. ir Ubert W. Harris Jr. ac- 

5— Miss Davis herself. • 

, . knowledged the prosecu- 

- Acting as co-counsel in huuu , 1 
Atuut, <» had be = ome con . 

her own case, the defen- t 

dant, who did not testify, i 
nonetheless presented an 
articulate and well-orga- j 
nized opening statement, 
declaring her innocence, j 
Her charge that the state's | 
case was hased on the 
"male chauvinism" of the 
prosecution — which had 
declared her motive for in- 
volvement was her "pas- j 
sionate love" for the con- 
vict George Jackson — 
seemed well-aimed at a 
jury of seven women and 
five men. i 
"Woman Foreman 
"While declining to say 
that "women's liberation" 
was a primary factor in 
the verdict, the jurors ac- 
knowledged it was the 
basis for their selection of 
a woman as foreman. The 
woman thev chose. Mrs. 
Mary M. Timothy of Palo 
Alto, signed the verdict as 
"Ms. Timothy, fore-per- 
son." 

Of significance, unques- 
tionably, was the state 
Supreme Court's decision 
Feb. IS to abolish capital 
punishment. It was on this 
basis that Miss Davis was 
freed on bail, providing 
the defense a psychologi- 
cal lift and better access to 
the defendant. Further, it 
meant that jurors would 
not need to be "death qual- 
ified," giving assurances 
that they could, under 
some circumstances, ren- 
der the death penalty. 

A jury that is "death 
qualified'" is generally re- 
garded as less likely to ac- 
quit. 

Decline Comment 

The juriors contacted ; 
Sunday night and Monday \ 
by reporters declined to 
comment on the evidence . 
in the case, citing the I 
forthcoming trial of con- ; 
viet Ruchell Magee, who : 
has been charged with ■ 
participating in the Marin 
shootout. (His case was se- 
parated from Miss Davis'.l 
But nearly all agreed that 
on none of the five ballots 
was there a single vote for . 
guilty — although some ab- : 
stained on early ballot'. 

The discussion was ■ 
"very civilized." said nne 
juror, and while two jur- 
ors asked for and were 
granted permission to exa- ; 
mine some trial exhibits, 
others moved away and 
played a game of cards. 
The jury, he said, had 
agreed on the key ques- 
tion in the trial— her In- 
nocence on the charge of 
conspiracy — by the second 
of three "days" of delibera- 
tion. 

Ralph E. DeLar.ge told 
why he had waved the 
clenched-fist to Miss Da- 
vis' supporters. "It was a 
spontaneous thing . . . fo 
show a unity of opinion 
for all oppressed people, to 
show I felt a sympathy for 
the people in the crowd." 
he said. "I just wanted to 
show them that we were 
not just a 'white, middle- 
class jury.'" 

Celebration Dance 

Mrs. Stephanie Ryon. a j 
22-year-old collections cor- i 
respondent for Sears, ac- j 
cepted Branton's invita- i 
tion to dance at a joyous j 
celebration of some 400 I 
persons at the Safari j 
Room, a suburban night- j 
club. Mrs. Ryon had taken 
elaborate notes during the 
pros ecution's presenta- 
tion. But after Branton's 
closing argument, when 
the prosecution presented 
its rebuttal, she had 
stopped taking notes. The 
trial, she told reporters, 
had made a "big change" 
in her life. 



cerned when It was no- 
ticed that Mrs. Ryon, and 
others, had not taken 
notes during Harris' re- 
buttal. 

In his presentation, the 
prosecutor had set forth 
one of his primary ar- 
guments: that the well- 
educated, former UCLA_ 



philosophy professor eith- 
er knew about the plot — 
or had been tricked and 
"framed" by Jonathan 
Jackson, George's brother 
and her close friend, who 
had smuggled the guns 
she had bought into the 
courtroom of Judge Ha- 
rold J. Haley. The second 



possibility, Harris said, 
was extremely remote and 
"beyond belief." 

Harris said Miss Davis 
herself "obviously was ■< 
factor" with the jury. 

"Jurors," he said, "seem 
to feel they can't find any- 
one guilty" in a conspiracy 
unless it's an iron-clad 



case. In this case we 
thought we had the 
evidence . . . but it's hard 
to take pictures of a con- 
spiracy. 

"We still feel we had the 
evidence for a conviction." 
Harris said.. "But the jury 
never seemed to get the 
point." 



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